PREVIEW: Arizona Coyotes eager for rematch with Wild after bad loss

Mar 5, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Minnesota Wild left wing Jordan Greenway (18) plays for the puck against Arizona Coyotes right wing Conor Garland (83) during the second period at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

He didn’t name names, but Rick Tocchet sure wasn’t afraid to point fingers Friday night.

The Arizona Coyotes head coach didn’t pull any punches after his team dropped a 5-1 stinker to the visiting Minnesota Wild in Glendale, Ariz.

“Some of our best players didn’t show up tonight,” Tocchet said. “They know who they are.”

The two teams are back on the ice Saturday in Glendale.

The Coyotes were outshot 27-25 on Friday, and the Wild had a 14-6 edge in shots blocked. The Coyotes outhit the Wild 23-13, led by Lawson Crouse with six and Christian Fischer with five, but Tocchet was left unimpressed.

“Some guys worked hard,” he said. “We had four or five guys that weren’t good. … They really cost us with egregious plays. Some guys need some self-evaluation and be ready to go (Saturday).”

Arizona defenseman Jordan Oesterle, who had four shots on goal but was minus-2 on the night, said of the Friday result, “We have to flush it.”

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Coyotes forward Tyler Pitlick, who finished with two shots and two hits in 16:50 of ice time, echoed Oesterle’s bathroom sentiment.

“Just flush it, forget about it,” Pitlick said.

Despite their sour demeanor after the game, the Coyotes insist they will be better on the back end of the doubleheader.

“Yeah, we have to come back, have a little chip on your shoulder and play hard, and no matter what happens, just keep playing,” Pitlick said.

Wild rookie Kirill Kaprizov lit up the Coyotes’ zone with his stellar playmaking, collecting two assists. Marcus Foligno also had two helpers for his fourth multipoint game in seven starts. He has five goals and five assists in that span.

Mats Zuccarello and Jordan Greenway each had a goal and an assist for Minnesota while Brad Hunt, Nick Bjugstad and Kevin Fiala added a goal apiece.

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Only Coyotes forward Clayton Keller could solve rookie goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen, who made 24 saves. Keller ruined Kahkonen’s chance at his first NHL shutout at 4:59 of the third period. The Coyotes haven’t scored a first-period goal in nine games.

Bjugstad said the Wild were happy with the way they bounced back from two consecutive losses to the Vegas Golden Knights earlier this week. The defeats at Las Vegas followed a six-game Minnesota winning streak.

“We had a good mentality from the start,” Bjugstad said of Friday game, in which the Wild jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period. “I thought it was a good all-around game for our four lines. We were playing well together.”

Wild defenseman Ian Cole acknowledged the two games against the Golden Knights were a misstep for a surging team that still has room to grow this season.

“I said when we were in Vegas that I think we have a mature team, even though we have some young guys,” the 32-year-old veteran said. “They’re mature in the sense they want to get better. Everyone on the team wants to get better, we want to continue to improve.”

–Field Level Media